In the mid-1950s, showbands and Rock & Roll burst onto the scene in Ireland and took the country by storm.
Derry and the North West were at the forefront of this musical revolution – and the Clipper Carlton from Strabane blazed the trail. The area boasted great dance halls such as the Corinthian, Memorial Hall, Criterion, Guildhall, Embassy, Cameo/Stardust, Borderland, Pallidrome, Fiesta, Plaza and the Castle. These venues hosted top-class showbands on an almost nightly basis with local performers such as Johnny Quigley’s All Stars, the Woodchoppers, James MacCafferty’s Carlton Swingtette, Mick McWilliams and Gay McIntyre.
The southern-based showmen of the Miami, the Royal, the Drifters and the Cadets then took it all to another level until the demise of the showband era in the mid-1970s.
Willie Deery and thousands of other teenagers travelled far and wide to the alcohol-free dances by bicycle, bus – and even tractor! Once there, they danced and romanced, rocked and rolled, and had the time of their lives.
Derry’s Dance Halls of Romance contains hundreds of unique images of those carefree dance-hall days and the showbands who brought them alive with their music and their energy. And some of the couples who first met in the dance halls tell their own fascinating stories of finding true love and lasting friendships.
So slip on your dancing shoes and waltz or jive your way down Willie Deery’s memory lane with the showbands and performers who set the dance floors alight in the Ballrooms of Romance.
ISBN 978 1 906271 41 1
First published November 2011, 242pp, 245mm x 170mm, paperback